Cytoskeletal arrays in the cells of soybean root nodules: The role of actin microfilaments in the organisation of symbiosomes

Lynne F. Whitehead, David A. Day*, Adrienne R. Hardham

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    32 Citations (Scopus)


    Within the infected cells of root nodules there is evidence of stratification and organisation of symbiosomes and other organelles. This organisation is likely to be important for the efficient exchange of nutrients and metabolites during functioning of the nodules. Using immunocytochemical labelling and confocal microscopy we have determined the organisation of cytoskeletal elements, microtubules and actin microfilaments in soybean nodule cells, with a view to assessing their possible role in organelle distribution. Most microtubule arrays occurred in the cell cortex where they formed disorganised arrays in both uninfected and infected cells from mature nodules. In infected cells from developing nodules, parallel arrays of microtubules, transverse to the long axis of the cell, were observed. In incipient nodules, before release of rhizobia into the plant cells, the cells also had an array of microtubules which radiated from the nucleus into the cytoplasm. Three actin arrays were identified in the infected cells of mature nodules: an aster-like array which emanated from the surface of the nucleus, a cortical array which had an arrangement similar to that of the cortical microtubules, and, throughout the cytoplasm, an array of fine filaments which had a honeycomb arrangement consistent with a distribution between adjacent symbiosomes. Uninfected cells from mature nodules had only a random cortical array of actin filaments. In incipient nodules, the density of actin microfilaments associated with the nucleus and radiating through the cytoplasm was much less than that seen in mature infected cells. The cortical array of actin also differed, being composed of swirling configurations of filaments. After invasion of nodule cells by the rhizobia, the number of actin filaments emanating from the nucleus increased markedly and formed a network through the cytoplasm. Conversely, the cytoplasmic array in uninfected cells of developing nodules was identical to that in the cells of incipient nodules. The cytoplasmic network in infected cells of developing nodules is likely to be the precursor of the honeycomb array seen in mature nodule cells. We propose that this actin array plays a role in the spatial organisation of symbiosomes and that the microtubules are involved in the localisation of mitochondria and plastids at the cell periphery in the infected cells of root nodules.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)194-205
    Number of pages12
    Issue number3-4
    Publication statusPublished - 1998


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